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The 2017 French Open is behind the eight ball Before it even starts

Roland Garros

The French Open is still more than a week away. However, it has already been a rough week for the second Grand Slam of the year. The absences of Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka, who are in different stages of pregnancy, were known a long time ago.

Two other absences were confirmed in the last couple days. One is simply disappointing, and the other is controversial. Here is a look at each.

Roger Federer

Roger Federer
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The beloved 35-year-old Swiss icon has been very choosy in regards to his scheduling in recent years as he tries to extend his career as long as possible.

Given his decision to not play any lead up events on clay, skipping the French Open for a second straight year is not a huge shock. The dominant clay-court form of longtime rival Rafael Nadal does not bode well for anyone’s chances in Paris, Federer included.

Only one of Federer’s record 18 Grand Slam singles titles has come on the clay of Paris. At this point in his career, Federer is well aware that his best chances are on grass and hardcourts. This choice reflects that.

Even so, it is never a good thing to have someone like Federer away from one of the sport’s biggest events.

Maria Sharapova

A key part of the ongoing saga surrounding the Russian ended Tuesday when the French Tennis Federation denied Sharapova a wildcard into both the main draw and qualifying rounds of the French Open.

Maria Sharapova

While I would have loved to have Sharapova added to the mix purely for the sake of intrigue, the tennis federation’s position of having a “moral obligation” to deny a player coming back from a doping suspension a wildcard is perfectly reasonable, until you dig deeper.

French player Constant Lestienne has been given a wildcard into qualifying at Roland Garros. Lestienne has a suspension on his record for betting on over 200 matches. That requires no further explanation and makes the decision to leave a five-time Grand Slam winner like Sharapova out in the cold hypocritical and ridiculous.

You never know what storylines can unfold over a two-week tennis major. However, the absence of the three biggest stars in the women’s game added to all of Rafael Nadal’s chief rivals either missing or in disarray is not encouraging

The 2017 French Open is left lacking star power and storylines. This is a position that has become all too familiar to big events in recent years.


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